Ferrari broke with recent traditions when it launched its 2006 challenger on January 24th; for the past few years the team has launched at its Maranello base and the cars have been named for the year in which they competed, from the F2001 to last...
Ferrari broke with recent traditions when it launched its 2006 challenger on January 24th; for the past few years the team has launched at its Maranello base and the cars have been named for the year in which they competed, from the F2001 to last season's F2005. The new car, however, was presented at the Mugello circuit and bears the designation 248 F1, which is derived from the 2.4 litre, 8 cylinder engine.
Michael Schumacher took to the track in the car, which had its shakedown last week at Fiorano, and displayed the familiar scarlet livery along with the number five, his number on the entry list this season. The 248 is said to be lighter, shorter and more compact than any of its predecessors and features new suspension and reworked aerodynamics.
"It was mainly to do with the V8 engine and we imposed a radical change from both a mechanical and aerodynamic point of view," said designer Aldo Costa, who developed the car along with chief designer Rory Byrne and technical director Ross Brawn. "The aerodynamics are still at a preliminary stage and will be until the first race of the season."
"As regards the chassis, this is totally new, above all in the centre section. We decided on this in order to optimise the weight distribution and lighten the entire structure. The same goes for the suspension, especially in the completely redesigned rear end."
"The transmission too is all new (though constructed from composite materials) and also the differential. In building these two new elements in particular, we had to pay close attention to the characteristics of the V8. The greater vibrations generated by the engine brought more initial problems."
The focus on the 248 and new engine began mid-season in 2005. "From the midway point of last season when we realised we could not challenge for the top spots, we began concentrating more on development, especially the blend of the aerodynamic configuration and the characteristics of the new V8," Brawn commented.
As with all the new engines, development has been ongoing for some time. "We started working on this engine midway through 2004 and then tested it on the bench," explained engine director Paolo Martinelli. "Last August it made its first outing, at Fiorano, and in the autumn of 2005 we completed the V8. Now we are close to the final version."
"The rules outline global constraints but do allow a lot of space for projectual experimentation. The 90° angle was our choice as was settling on the minimum weight for the non-moving parts. The real challenge, however, was lightening the weight of the moving components."
Along with Schumacher's number five, teammate Felipe Massa's car is number six. A bit of a drop down the list after the last few seasons when the scarlet cars sported numbers one and two, but Ferrari director Jean Todt believes it makes the team even more determined to return to its winning ways.
"Seeing the new car with the new sponsor logos and, above all, the numbers five and six, is a return for us to a distant past," he remarked. "It will be a great incentive to improve. The entire squad wants to get back to top spot."